Bafana Bafana have suffered a setback after Zambia and Madagascar pulled out of their proposed international friendlies billed for this weekend due to xenophobic violence in South Africa.
The Chipolopolo of Zambia were to host Bafana Bafana on Saturday, September 7 in Lusaka in the FIFA international window, security concerns occasioned by the outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa ensured Zambia called off the game.
South African Football Association, SAFA, then turned to The Barea of Madagascar on a stop-gap arrangement to fill the void.
The tie with Madagascar was billed for Orlando, near Johannesburg on Saturday September 7.
But like Zambia, Madagascar turned down SAFA’s request over security concerns too in the aftermath of the attacks on foreigners in South Africa.
“SAFA regrets to inform the public that the match between Bafana Bafana and Madagascar scheduled for this coming Saturday (7 September) has been called off after the visitors (Madagascar) decided to withdraw from the encounter,” SAFA said in a statement on its website.
Describing the development as ‘upsetting’, SAFA spokesman Dominic Chimhavi said the players and staff were ‘shocked’ by the news and were ‘still figuring out what to do next’.
“Apparently [Madagascar] were on their way to the airport when they received a call from the government telling them that they were not allowed to board the plane for South Africa,” Chimhavi said.
“Naturally this is upsetting for all involved.
“I think we both can guess why they’ve done this. It is pretty obvious what is happening in South Africa,” he said.
However, Madagascar Football Federation said in a statement that it was “honored” to be considered to play South Africa but after consultation with various agencies in the country, it was deemed “wise” to decline the invitation on security grounds.